camp cerebrations two: sticking with you

and if i have to jump, then i’ll jump and i won’t look down.  you can cry, you can fight, we can scream and shout.  i’ll push and pull until your walls come down, and you understand, i’m gonna be around . . . i’m sticking with you.

sticking with you, addison road

DSCF8176

So sweet.

This is the girlie and one of her friends from her hometown, B.  She’s a sweetie and has Down Syndrome, so like putting any two kids together, especially for such an extended amount of time, sometimes the girlie and B were absolute best friends like in the picture above, and others they can whine and squabble with each other constantly–more than is normal for a thirteen- and sixteen-year-old [B’s birthday was on Thursday while she was at camp, and she was graced by having a boys cabin sing to her].

And what can I say, they fought about girl stuff.  There was a banquet on the last day of camp, which essentially meant we ate slightly fancier food for camp food, and that everybody got to sit wherever they wanted instead of just with their cabin groups, and that, oh yes, girls and boys could sit beside one another. Meaning, that the girlie and B and some other girls got very date-hungry and wanted boys to take them to the banquet [which, might I add, was an entire forty minutes long].

So early in the week the girls both had a crush on the same guy.  And fought over him all week until the girlie’s sister wrote an asking-out note to the guy and he said yes to going to the banquet with the girlie.  And then B was crushed and a ridiculous amount of fighting ensued.  It was exhausting.  I spent one night chasing the girlie and the guy around during a night game [did I mention the girlie is fast?]

And seriously, it was driving me nuts.  I’m not good with boy drama, especially of the sort that involves a thirteen-year-old and Bible camp.  But really, try reasoning with hormonal kids that “You’re young, you have enough time for this later in life.  We’re at camp to learn more about God, and yeah, make new friends, but having a boyfriend isn’t all that important with where you’re at in life right now.”

Because, yeah, they don’t take that.

Anyway, later in the week, the guy got fed-up and exclaimed “Fine, I’m not going with anybody anymore”.  And that was kind of the end of the fighting between B and the girlie for the most part.  Thank goodness, sort of.

So, yeah, B and the girlie were total teenage girls all this week, frustrating for me, but unavoidable.  Somewhat like the girlie, B needs more support but not necessarily a one-on-one support worker.  Meaning, I spent some time trying to help her and deal with her problems too.  Fortunately, the girlie is very caring and was for the most part very okay with sharing me.  While she can be difficult because of her ADHD and developmental delays, there are times where Jesus’ love shines through her in HUGE ways.

Which will become evident in an upcoming post.

Advertisements

camp cerebrations one: thursday

it’s no accident we’re here tonight, we are once in a lifetime

needle and haystack life, switchfoot

Thursday was a rougher day.  I felt like I had to coax, argue, plead with the girlie to participate all day.  I spent a lot of my downtime/solitary supervision time at camp praying anyway, but I was really asking God for strength, persistence and most importantly patience.

I never thought it would end [or Friday would begin] so beautifully though, through all the chaos.

I had to plead with the girlie to get out of bed to go to the bathroom and brush her teeth.  She wasn’t biting at all.  Wouldn’t move.  This had gone on all day and my patience at 11:30 was just done.  I broke down, tearfully pleading her to just get ready for bed.  Finally I just couldn’t stand it anymore and asked E, another camper who was absolutely amazing to have around, to ask Nadine [the girls’ counsellor and an amazing person] to deal with the girlie while I went to the bathroom and got ready for bed.

I was better by the time I got back to the cabin.  I was just tired, exasperated and frustrated.  As I was coming back, E was taking the girlie to the bathroom to get ready for bed.  I was so, so grateful for that girl.

When they got back, the girlie sat with me for a bit and we talked.  Her ankle hurt, she wasn’t feeling good . . . mostly, though, I think she was just tired.  So was I.  We hugged it out, were okay, and she climbed up to her bunk and fell asleep relatively quickly.

E and R were still up talking after everybody had fallen asleep, and I joined them haphazardly a bit, but then decided to roll over and try to sleep.  I’d been noticing change in E in chapel–resistance changing to longing for exploration of God.  I saw so, so much of myself six years ago in her and I really, really wanted to hear her story so far, where she was at.

“Okay, I can’t sleep, your conversation is getting too good.  So, [E], where are you at with God?”

She told me that at the beginning of the week she’d not been a believer.  She hated chapel, hated worship.  Hated devotions.  Like I did my first year of camp before I believed in God.

Then, she said, she’d done a one-eighty.  That everything around her felt so genuine, so real, that she believed in God.

I am so, so excited for her journey.  To see where God takes her.

“Is it okay if I sit on your bunk?”

“For sure.”

We talked until nearly two am.  I prayed for her, her journey with God, her Opa who’s been sick.  We prayed for healing.

I had, once again, the opportunity to tell my story.  Both E and R looked at me wide-eyed and couldn’t believe the stories of who I used to be.  And it is ALL God responsible for that change.  Our amazing, awesome God.

As we were talking, the Switchfoot lyric from above came into my head, and I quoted the first half.  “You know, another thing is that I don’t believe that the fact we’re here having this conversation right now is an accident.  I think there’s a reason for everything.  Talking with you girls has been so, so good.  All that’s lead to this . . . this moment . . . happened for a reason.  And that is so, so cool.”

R and E told me some of their stories, their journeys with God.  I love hearing where people are at, where they’ve come from.  R, it sounds, has always had deep faith.  E went to church when she was younger, then it faded out, and I’m praying now that she’s recommitted to Jesus and that He’s helping her to take on everything she’s faced and is facing in life with Him at her side for support.

You’re not here by accident . . . and life it lives.

life, flyleaf

Thank You, Jesus for beautiful transformation, beautiful change and beautiful stories.

 

(to be continued)

searchin’ for prayer warriors

Next Monday I’ll be heading off to a Bible camp with one of the amazing girls I do inclusion with.  I think, though, that this is going to be a challenging week [especially emotionally] as I attempt to help integrate and involve her on a more personal level than she integrates and involves herself.

I want to see growth so, so much.  I want to grow by seeing her grow.

I put a call out on Twitter last night for people who will engage in prayer with me during the week next week, and to those of you who have responded I am so grateful and want to hug all of you.

You probably all know I don’t do these kinds of things often, so here’s what I’m requesting prayer for:

  • Spiritual growth and engagement; lessons that become tangible.
  • Health [for both of us!] and safety
  • Emotional preparedness — for the weeklong and perhaps intense journey that camp will be.  For the girlie, manageable homesickness if any.
  • Patience and compassion
  • Sleep.  Oh my goodness, sleep.
  • FUN

I’ve never done anything like this where I’m on-duty 24 hours a day for like five-and-a-half days.  I’m very stoked to see what God teaches me through this.  I feel really blessed by those of you who have already committed to be on my team of prayer warriors next week.

I love you all — thanks for joining me on this journey!

pausing with Jesus

i find myself reading blog posts, skimming past the parts about Jesus without even thinking about it.

Why?

why.am.i.overlooking.what.actually.matters?

Jesus.  Jesus who actually matters.

Jesus.  Jesus who changed and changes everything.

Jesus.  Jesus who is everything.

Friday at youth, our theme was Pause. Play. Repeat. Amidst the reflection of the past lessons we’ve covered during the year, Ramona went over Matthew 5:4-8, pinpointing people whom she saw the verses majorly representing.  That was a push I needed, direct application of scripture.

4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.

And these things, certain people are evident in all of them.  And these things are things that we should strive to have evident in all of us.

I was shocked, though, because I was the first example.  The Message translation puts it this way, and I feel connection in this:

4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

Ramona phrased it as that I “mourn” with people–work through struggles and tough stuff with them.  I see the second translation, though, linking my past with my future once again.  Having identity in nothing was previously “dear” to me.  It’s true.  Being stronger alone was who I was.  God took that from me, forever.  And I was embraced fully by His LOVE.

Moments of blessing appear so often.  I am blessed that people allow me to intertwine into their stories, engage in their stories.  I am blessed every single time I engage in worship with one of the girls I do inclusion with.  I am blessed every time my other girlie looks at me and holds onto my arm and says “I love you” because that is exactly what’s on her heart at the time.

I do a lot of playing and repeating.  I need to do more pausing.

Pausing like this.

Pausing with Jesus.


rejoice for He is risen!

I had a really cool Easter. 

I started the day with my 3rd ever Easter church service of my life, and it was awesome.  It just felt really energizing and focusing and fantastic. 

I then got to hang with one of my girlies from youth where we mostly played with my camera and she hugged me a lot :).  Love the girls I’ve had an opportunity to get to know through my church’s youth program.  Also, one of the other youth leaders found candy canes on his dresser and brought them to church.  Because, really, what says EASTER more than candy canes?

This was followed by spending some chaotic time in the three year old room, where everything simmered down when they got in for stories and worship.  I had a little buddy who was so adorable through the time we spent in the teaching portion.  He’s three but has just started talking, so he repeats EVERYTHING you say, and decided I was his friend for today.  Three year old cuddles between praise songs are the bestest.

At home while waiting to go to family dinner I did some varieties of running around because the city turned off our water so they could fix something at our neighbours’ place.  Once that calmed down [aka we had showered and acquired a port-a-potty from my grandparents—gotta love being lake people] I read some of the Easter story in the Bible which just felt super awesome. 

"display the bright splendor of your Son, so the Son in turn may show Your bright splendor"

John 17:1

Intermingle this with a lot of praise music, and even the chaos can be really refreshing.  I think that’s kind of a reminder of where I should be ALL THE TIME.  In the chaos, REJOICE.  PRAISE.  SEEK.  And I have to get better at that.

a letter to the humane society

As I was perusing the net for summer jobs tonight, I came across a statement on the Humane Society Day Camp’s website that completely shocked and repulsed me.  Humane to animals, yes.  Humane to children with disabilities? I’m not so sure.

As a university student, I was investigating day camps to apply for for summer positions within the city and came across the Humane Society Day Camp.  I formerly thought highly of the great things I had heard of this camp from kids who attended until I came across this statement:

“Please note that our day camp programs are geared to children who are able to participate in group activities. We are not equipped to provide one-to-one supervision for children and may not be able to accommodate children with challenging special needs or behavioural issues.”

I think this is absolutely ridiculous, discriminatory and unfair to children with these sorts of special needs AND their parents, as an inclusion youth leader and a former childcare worker.  Inclusion for children with physical, social, emotional, behavioural and intellectual differences IS possible within camp programming, and can be provided in various facets to be tailored to the individual child and their needs.  Inclusive participation is not only highly beneficial to the social development of children WITH special needs, but also those without.  ALL children are ABLE to participate in group activities providing inclusive practices are in place, which can be provided through a variety of organizations or family provided respite care.

If I am incorrect in your policy, please correct me, but if I am incorrect then your website’s response to inclusion of children with special needs requires revision.  If I am not, then I stand by what I have written and I am unimpressed at the pure lack of effort in facilitating inclusive camp experiences to a specific group of children who could likely benefit from them the MOST.

Needless to say . . . I didn’t inquire about applying.

F**king ridiculous.

Or am I taking their “may not” as a will not, and thus making myself being the one being f**king ridiculous?  Am I the crazy one?

knowledge, people first and adapting

Last term I was in developmental psychology for a good, oh, quarter term.  During the span of the time in this class, my prof—who was, granted, nearing his seventies—constantly referred to children as their disability first and as children second.  NOT okay.

It pissed me off, so I wrote him a stern but not condescending e-mail exemplifying his errors and explaining HOW to rectify his speech.  I wrote the message sitting in the front row of his class, and received a simple “thank you, Kerri” in response about ten minutes after class concluded.  The next class, he tried to drop an ‘autistic child’ as he had been doing.  He got to “autis—“ paused, and said “child with autism”.

I recieved an e-mail that said a child “IS special needs”.  [ALL kids have special needs, so I actually don’t like that catch-all too much either].

A child is NOT their difference, their disability, their special need . . .

They are who they are and who they are likely is partly shaped by how they have been socialized to feel about who they are with regard to their disability.

As a leader, a facilitator, a friend, it is important for me to know how I can best adapt a program to ANY child’s unique circumstances.  Because knowing SOME level of specifics makes so much make more sense.  How chain-reactions occur, what to watch for, and how far it is okay to push—a big thing we’re dealing with at work with some kids right now.  As a leader, facilitator and friend, it’s hard to adapt something to a child if there’s something behind the scenes I don’t know about.

But all in all, I still need to know the child, the person first.  I go by the same saying with many, if not all, chronic medical conditions, disabilities, et cetera I encounter . . . In my own case “asthma does not define me . . .  but it helps explain me”.